Build Writing Skills in Your Kids
Writing is a great way to express what you think, feel and imagine. Being able to communicate well using written words is essential for your kids. Extra writing practice can improve skills and boost overall school performance. All kids, from a kindergartener to a high schooler, can become better writers by doing more of it. Here are six practice exercises for a range of ages and writing abilities.
Write a Picture Story
For pre-kindergarten and early elementary school-aged children, have them draw a picture on a piece of white paper. Encourage them to write a simple basic sentence about what they have drawn on the open white space on the paper. Prompt them by asking questions about their drawing. What is going on? What person did you draw? What are they doing?
In the Kitchen
Place a dry-erase board or chalkboard within easy reach for your kids. If they want you to purchase something at the grocery store, ask them to write it on the board. Planning the weekend menu? Have your kid write it down. If you pack your kids' school lunch, encourage them to write down their requests. It doesn't matter if it's not spelled correctly; have them sound it out.
Get the note pads ready. If you are planning to go to the grocery store, dictate what items are needed to purchase and have your kid write them down. Planning to go away for on a trip? Have your kids write down what they should pack. Having a busy week? Get your kid to write the schedule down to help everyone remember what's going on. Making lists is a great way to practice spelling and handwriting skills.
For older, elementary-aged kids who are beginning to engage in creative writing, give them some starting points to get their creativity going. Read one of the following writing prompts and encourage them to write a paragraph. After you've gone through them all, think about your kids' interests and come up with some tailored prompts just for them.
• If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be? What do you look like? What moves can you make like flying or climbing trees? Where would you live and what would you eat?
• Imagine you are riding on a flying carpet. This magic carpet could take you anywhere in the world. Where would you go? What would you see and do?
• If you can have the ability to fly like a bird or swim like a fish, which one would you chose and why?
Sending out a letter and waiting for a response promotes patience in our world of instant gratification. Kids of all ages can benefit from an exercise in patience while growing their communication skills. Grandparents, relatives or a friend who has moved away are good choices to exchange hand-written correspondence. Not only will it give them a fun way to write, it will be good practice for spelling, punctuation and capitalization.
Let It Out
For tweens and teens, their emotions are on a whirlwind. Writing down their feelings will give them a good outlet for their emotions. These writings don't have to go public. Getting in the habit of writing about personal experiences will make the often-dreaded college application requirement seem effortless.
The more effort your kids put into writing, the better they will be at it. Writing well is a valuable life skill that will benefit your children now in becoming better overall students and later for being effective communicators throughout their lifetime.
Sara Kendall is a freelance writer and mother of two daughters.